Veiled things

Posted by Lewis on October 17, 2005

In Reply to: Piercing the veil posted by Smokey Stover on October 16, 2005

: : : : : Does anyone know the meaning of 'lift the veil' or 'lifting the veil'?
: : : : When you lift the veil from something or someone, you reveal what is behind it. So figuratively, it means to uncover some private or secret thing.

: : : A veil can be a concealing item of clothing (a bridal veil) or a concealing curtain (as used below) and has come to mean "something that hides or obscures like a veil" (Merriam-Webster online).

: : : Mark 15:
: : : 36 And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down.

: : : 37 And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.

: : : 38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.

: : : 39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.

: : : In my family, when we don't want to hear about or discuss a topic, we say, "Draw a veil."

: : A somewhat related phrase is "piercing the veil," a legal term. The definition, courtesy of

: : A judicial doctrine that allows a plaintiff to hold otherwise immune corporate officers and directors personally liable for damages caused by a corporation under their control. The veil is pierced when officers have acted intentionally and illegally, or when their actions exceeded the power given them by the company's articles of incorporation.

: Or "piercing the veil" can just be used as a common figure of speech, meaning approximately the same thing as "lifting the veil." SS

I suppose the word 'veil' means an occluding piece of material and therefore is translated according to context - on the scale of the temple of Jerusalem, the cloth obscuring the Holy of Holies, would be a 'curtain'. It would sound daft removing a wedding curtain from the bride to reveal her loveliness...

the core tenet of company law is that a company had an independent legal identity apart from the members and directors. the members own the company (in shares) and the directors manage the company. when there is impropriety in a company, sometimes the legal identity of the company is not allowed to shield ('veil') the directors and they may incur personal liability for their actions.

that can be described as 'lifting the veil' - 'piercing the veil' sounds like Hamlet and an arras ; so back to curtains again. 'lifting' is much more appropriate most of the time. 'piercing' makes it sound like a judge is making a wild stab in the dark.